Probiotics are vital to maintaining an efficient digestive system and proper nutrition in people of all ages.
The gut microbiome can become compromised by illness, medications, age and other factors. Probiotics can help undo the damage and restore robust digestive health.
The benefits of having a digestive system that is firing on all cylinders are many and we will get into them in detail below.
20 Benefits Of Probiotics
Probiotics are tiny organisms that play an essential role in restoring and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Here are 20 benefits of taking probiotic supplements.
1: Probiotics promote a healthy gut microbiota.
The digestive tract is cobbled together from more than a half dozen parts. None of those parts would be worth much, though, if it weren’t for the bacteria that inhabit them (1). Those bacteria extract the nutrients from the food you eat and make them available to your cells. They exist in the trillions, and together they make up the gut microbiota. Probiotics bolster the health of the microbiota, with the result being you get more from the food you eat.
2: Probiotics restore gut flora after antibiotic use.
Antibiotics have saved millions of lives since they first became available to the public in the 1940s. But, like everything else, antibiotics have their downside. In this case, we’re talking about the fact that they tend to kill off that beneficial bacteria that makes up the gut microbiota (2). Fortunately, taking probiotics after you finish a course of antibiotics can go a long way toward restoring a healthy gut.
3: Probiotics can reduce incidents of acid reflux.
Anyone afflicted with acid reflux, or GERD, (3) will attest to its unpleasant nature. Reflux occurs when acid leaks out of the stomach into the lower portion of the esophagus. Typically, it produces heartburn. But when it occurs during sleep, it can produce a feeling that you are suffocating. While probiotics alone will not ‘cure’ acid reflux disease, they can, for some people, reduce its frequency and severity.
4: Probiotics may help reduce blood pressure.
The CDC estimates that high blood pressure contributes to nearly 500,000 deaths per year in the US. If you have high blood pressure, bringing it under control is of paramount importance. Recent studies indicate that over the course of a couple of months, probiotics are able to effectively lower blood pressure in most people (4). The results, while promising, are considered preliminary, though. Meaning larger studies are needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
5: Probiotics strengthen your immune system.
Without a functioning immune system, most people would not last a week. Most of us enjoy robust immunity in young adulthood. But over time, the immune system begins to lose its effectiveness. Science has established that the gut microbiota has a complex symbiotic relationship with the immune system (5). One that can only be enhanced by taking probiotics on a regular basis.
6: Probiotics can help lower cholesterol levels.
Elevated cholesterol levels are a major contributing factor in heart disease (6). That’s the bad news. The good news is that studies have shown probiotics can reduce total serum cholesterol by a significant degree (7). That equates to better blood flow, less strain on the heart muscle, and a reduced chance of having a stroke.
7: Probiotics have the ability to regulate hormones.
The relationship between the gut and hormone production has been established for some time (8). A healthy microbiome helps reduce inflammation. That, in turn, helps promote hormonal balance. Hormonal balance, in turn, can help stabilize blood glucose levels. This is true for both men and women, young and old.
8: Probiotics can help restore normal sexual function.
As we just saw, the gut microbiota plays a key role in hormone production. That has many health implications for both women and men. In men, a healthy gut microbiome is essential if they are to produce the amount of testosterone necessary to support sexual function (9). Probiotic supplements can help ensure testosterone levels are where they should be.
9: Probiotics may help with migraines.
The notion that the gut microbiome may have a role to play in brain function has gained a lot of scientific traction in recent years. Because of this, some have wondered aloud whether there might be a connection between gut health and migraines. And whether probiotics may be a useful migraine treatment. A couple of small studies have been conducted, and one of them strongly suggested probiotics can, in fact, reduce both the number and severity of migraines (10).
10: Probiotics restore proper pH balance in the gut.
pH balance plays an important role in overall gut health. An out of whack pH balance can lead to all kinds of digestive problems and contribute to yeast infections and urinary tract infections. One of the unheralded benefits of probiotics is their ability to restore proper pH levels to the gut. This is one reason why probiotics are often suggested for women with chronic yeast infections and for people who suffer from acid reflux.
11: Probiotics are good for your bones.
Bones need adequate infusions of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and more if they are to maintain their strength and flexibility (11). An unhealthy gut microbiota will not process nutrients as effectively. Over time the effect will be small, brittle bones, osteoporosis, and devastating fractures late in life. Taking probiotics now can prevent those things from happening.
12: Probiotics can improve urinary tract health.
Urinary tract infections are far more common in women than men. But both sexes are susceptible. UTIs have many potential causes, including an imbalance in the pH balance of the gut caused by an inefficient gut microbiome. Probiotic supplements can restore gut health and, in the process, short circuit at least one cause of troublesome urinary tract infections.
13: Probiotics can alleviate symptoms of chronic skin conditions.
Most chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis have their roots in either inflammation or immune system dysfunction or both. An unhealthy gut microbiome is known to contribute to inflammation (12) and negatively impact the immune system. Probiotic supplements can restore a healthy gut microbiome and, in the process, alleviate some of the worst symptoms of chronic skin conditions (13).
14: Probiotics are good for your eyes.
Most people don’t think much about how their diet affects their eyes. But the eyes are like every other part of your body. They rely on proper nutrition to work effectively and to hold up over the long haul. Probiotics that enhance the gut microbiome ensure that more nutrients – including the all-important beta carotene (14), which the body converts into vitamin A – get to your eyes.
15: Probiotics can alleviate diarrhea and constipation.
One of the most common reasons people suffer from chronic diarrhea or constipation is an unhealthy gut environment. When probiotic levels are off in the digestive tract, food is not processed effectively and the entire process of absorption and waste expulsion is thrown into chaos. Probiotics can help alleviate both acute and chronic diarrhea in people of all ages (15).
16: Probiotics are good for your mind.
The gut plays a major role in hormone production, as we mentioned earlier. That includes the hormones melatonin, cortisol, and serotonin, which are used by the brain to regulate mood, sleep, and more (16)(17). By taking probiotic supplements, you ensure a healthy gut microbiome, which, in turn, helps ensure proper amounts of these important hormones get to your brain.
17: Probiotics can help you lose weight.
People who drastically reduce the amount of food they eat in an effort to lose weight often flirt with malnutrition. This is especially true if their digestive tract is not in good working order with plenty of probiotics on hand. You can correct the problem and ensure more efficient absorption of nutrients by taking a probiotic supplement. This will enable you to obtain higher levels of nutrition without having to eat more food.
18: Probiotics can help stabilize blood glucose levels.
This is maybe one of the most surprising benefits of probiotic consumption. But it’s more than just a marketing claim. Numerous scientific studies have confirmed that probiotic supplements can regulate, that is, stabilize, blood glucose levels (18). This is an important finding for diabetics and the millions considered to be in a pre-diabetic (19) state.
19: Probiotics may play a role in preventing cancer.
This is another finding that is likely to surprise many people. But it makes sense when you consider the big picture. Probiotics, as we have seen, can reduce chronic inflammation (20). Chronic inflammation is believed to increase the risk of cancer (21). Therefore, anything that helps to reduce chronic inflammation will likely also reduce the risk of developing cancer.
20: Probiotics may help you breathe easier.
Speaking of inflammation, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other lung ailments are typified by inflammation of the airways. Corticosteroids have long been the go-to treatment for these types of conditions. However, probiotics, with their anti-inflammatory capabilities, are forcing a reassessment. Indeed, studies strongly suggest that they can be put to use treating chronic lung ailments (22).
Probiotics do their job out of sight and without producing obvious effects like huge muscles. But the work they do is essential when it comes to ensuring long term overall health.
From helping people lose weight to alleviating chronic skin conditions, ensuring optimal nutrient absorption, reducing harmful cholesterol levels and restoring your digestive tract after antibiotic use probiotics are the tiny bacteria that pay big dividends.